Labor Day weekend, when 65% of America has packed up the SUV with kids and toys and bug spray and SPF to celebrate the proverbial end of summer (which, I might add in my best crank tone, doesn't really end for another couple of weeks, and for those of us without kids and toys and SUV's and the schedule of the public school system, we might just extend that vibe a bit, if its ok with the rest of you...). As my calendar doesn't revolve around a school system, or even 95% of the world's work week, as my Wednesday might look like your Sunday and my Sunday might look like your Thursday, I spend Labor Day "weekend" laboring. Not laboring in my usual way, which might look like a typical tour day. But laboring in that "ahhhhh...I have a few days off the road/ the studio, so I think I might actually measure the windows for some curtains and spend the majority of my friday running from Target to Home Depot to KMart to West Elm to price curtains and by 4pm when the rush hour traffic begins, I'll trek home, purchase in hand ready for my "Saturday" which will entail an uninterrupted period of time where I can drill and measure and vaccuum and clean and bag and decorate and then sit, at the end of the day, with my glass of wine, unshowered still, and admire the job I did.
Which is exactly what I did on this Labor Day weekend, as tomorrow-Sunday, and Monday- the day most of you are off, I will be tracking vocals in a studio for 12 hours.
However. Not as smooth sailing as I'd thought.
And for this, I must apologize to my fellow feminist sistren. I am a lousy feminist when it comes to home repairs. I suck. I fail. Forgive me. I wail and weep and fall and falter and nail my own damn finger to the wall and wish I could call my ex-husband and beg of him to take me back for 8 hours, so that I could take advantage of him, ask him to hang my drapes, build my CD shelves, tell me how to drill a hole into a wall that won't give, measure and level and hold shit aloft I can't reach, figure out Target shelving where the instructions are a pictogram that makes little sense. I would buy him all the MGD he'd want and allow him to watch PGA and NASCAR as much as he wanted if he'd help me. Or really, anyone. Anyone taller than 5'10".
The world of home repair is prejudice against the single woman. Or the single short man.
I am proud of a few things I did. I am TERRIFIED of spiders, and yet, today, I donned gardening gloves and tore the ivy off my walls, cleaned the raingutters and broke apart every wolf spider web I saw, and there were a lot and those spiders are huge, let me tell you. I put the damn draperies up, despite the fact that I broke 3 drill bits into the wall-that-wouldn't-budge. They might not be pretty if you look too closely, but standing back a bit and fuzzing out your eyes, you dont' notice the rods are a bit, well, saggy.
And I put together the World's-Most-Complicated-CD-Shelving-System, brought to you by the good people of Target, who are just a wee bit better than the Swedes at Ikea. Both give you nice cartoons, woodenesque pieces labeled with the alphabet. And yet, there's always that ONE piece that won't go, which sets the whole enterprise off askew. Well, screw it. I got mine together and shoved it against the wall and even managed to mangle the wall-holder into the damn Wall That Ate the Drill bits.
I missed my yoga class. I had to bail on a dinner plan with some girlfriends. And forgot to eat. But I got it all done. Alone. Cursing my single fate the entire way, with side-of-the-mouth confessions to Andrea Dworkin and my old college roommates who were always much better Feminists than I. Yes. I wished I had a man around for a few hours. I'm proud I did it alone. I'm convinced the gods of home repair care not for the small percentage of women-over-40-who-choose-to-remain-single.
I had a dream last night that stuck with me for a long enough time for me to know it was more than a dream. I was in and out of college, in that dreamlike way where sometimes you're in your college dorm with your friend Kennan living 2 doors away, and sometimes you're in a room lottery choosing a dorm room, but the dorm doesn't look like the one from your yearbook and you are clearly in your 40's going back, but you can't tell if anyone else from the dream knows that you are time-travelling. My dream involved Kennan and Sasha, perhaps my 2 favorite people from college. And a few people from now who are the most important people in my present. And Professor Pritchard, a real professor from whom I never took a class. But there he was, and I'm not even sure his first name is William, but in my dream he was clearly "Bill". And I was on the eve of the first day of class but with a group of people from past and present at a picnic table, discussing the party that would start soon, a "kegger" or something like that. Yet, I had to read "Crime and Punishment" and write an essay. And I'd skimmed it, and began an essay right there, starting with some relevant quotation I'd found in "Bartlett's Quotations" -- phoning it in, writing some bland essay destined to win me an "A" but be forgotten in my own education. And this person from my present said, "you know, you already graduate Magna cum laude...there's nothing you have to prove here. Why don't you write something Real?" And I hesitated, thinking it was an insult and then realizing the challenge. To write one or two sentences, or paint a picture, or knit something, but not to write the kind of essay I was going to write....
...which reminds me of a story someone told me recently. Miles Davis had hired this young sax player and the sax player was in the studio with Miles and the band and he was lightly blowing the solo he might play when his time came. Miles walked over to him. Said, "Man, you know that thing you're working on?" The kid said, "yeah?". Miles says, "when the solo comes, play anything but that."
Which is to say, stop rehearsing. Stop thinking. Play something else.
So in my dream, I think I handed in a 2 sentence essay. Which would have been, in my college day, probably a minor personal revolution.
But I woke and there it was, this dream, this challenge posed, screaming at me. And my day was planned. Instead, I picked up the drill and the hammer. I hung drapes. I built a CD tower. I nested. Then I cooked. I labored on the day most people aren't.
I sometimes think about time passing and wonder who's watching the clock and who's putting together the photo album here. My father stacks photo albums in our house for every season. I'm alone here. Me and June. Which, for now, makes me happy. But single women: do we keep photo albums? Not really.
So, all my feminist friends from college are married or partnered. And I sucked at feminism back then. Still do. Still think being alone as a woman is a temporary thing. Once in a while I get a glimpse that this could be a choice. And not such a bad one. Not that coupling isn't a lovely thing. But I did it for all the wrong reasons too many times before. If I do it again, I promise my heart I will be awake and aware. Until then: couldn't I just rent a 6 foot man to help with the windows? Will that betray my sistren?